Planning to play a key role in protection of Welsh language

153 days ago

County councillors in Carmarthenshire have given their unanimous backing to a motion which calls for the planning system to play a larger role in the protection and growth of the Welsh language.

Cllr Alun Lenny, who chairs the council’s Planning Committee, brought a motion to Full Council asking that the Welsh language becomes a material planning consideration for all developments of five or more houses in Rural Carmarthenshire, and 10 or more in urban areas.

He said such an approach would help address the decline in the number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire, and contribute towards the Welsh Government’s target of creating a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The council is currently developing its next Local Development Plan, which will set the boundaries and guidelines for planning until 2033.

With the council’s backing of the motion, this will now include provision to measure the impact of larger developments on the Welsh language countywide.

It will also seek to provide more affordable housing to allow more Welsh-speaking families to continue living in, or return to live, in Carmarthenshire.

Speaking to council, Cllr Lenny said: “Now is the time to develop the status of the Welsh language in the county. Providing houses in the right locations is essential.

“Planning applications are subject to many consultations, but bats and butterflies have more status than the Welsh language in planning applications. There should be a consultation on language impact.

“The alarming reduction in the last census is clear evidence that the Welsh language should be a material planning consideration.”

He added: “I would like to see the Welsh Government working with us.”

Cllr Cefin Campbell, Executive Board Member for rural affairs, said: “There is inconsistency across Wales which has led to confusion. We have a steer from Welsh Government but do not have clear guidelines about what defines an area as a location of linguistic sensitivity.”

This was echoed by Cllr Mair Stephens, Executive Board Member for Strategic Planning, who suggested there should be a standard methodology to assess Welsh language impact across Wales.

Cllr Tina Higgins, speaking on behalf of the opposition, added: “After the last census results the council set up a working group to save the language in Carmarthenshire. At the time, the Leader wrote to the Minister asking for the Welsh language to be considered as part of TAN 20. The Planning Act 2015 allows us to make these decisions on a local level. We support the motion and thank the cross party group that made recommendations.”